Reviews

Ai Goldsmith is a fine, distinguished flutist… Goldsmith’s tone and articulation are world-class. She is a sensitive and erudite artist, a fact on display in her literate and informative program notes … Goldsmith is an especially communicative artist.  The Exquisite Allegories exhibits a flutist at the peak of her powers, bringing to life music as haunting as it is rarely heard…  [Fantasie by Carl Frühling] is a work of late Romantic passion, with an aristocratic air to the flute writing.  Goldsmith and Miles Graber shape it with delicacy and understanding, staying aware throughout of the overall mood… The performance [of the Variations on a Theme by Grieg by Walter Gieseking] is as exquisite as the CD’s title…Goldsmith’s playing [of Litanay for All Souls’ Day by Schubert] marries ease with passion…The Exquisite Allegories at its best…is sheer poetry.  Ai Goldsmith and Miles Graber have created a rich listening experience.  Highly recommended.

Dave Saemann, Fanfare

California-based flutist Ai Goldsmith and pianist Miles Graber’s CD, Les exquises Allégories, gives us the opportunity to get to know four major works, each 15 to 20 minutes long, by little-known 20th-century composers, plus a lovely transcription of an early Schubert lied.  First on the program is Carl Frühling’s Fantasie, Op.55, a bravura, late-Romantic one-movement emotional rollercoaster ride. Goldsmith’s direct approach to playing the flute is perfect for the big, expansive opening, reminiscent of the opening moments of Chaminade’s Concertino and Eldin Burton’s Sonatina. This directness, which I might characterize as letting the music speak for itself, also works particularly well in the opening movement of the Sonatine by Walter Gieseking, whose work as a composer is as worthy of recognition as his career as a concert pianist. (He also composed Variations on a Theme by Grieg, also on this CD.).  Where it is perhaps most effective is in Schubert’s Litany for All Souls’ Day, which Goldsmith dedicated to her mother, who died in 2012, and which she plays with respectful simplicity, allowing the beauty and the sadness of the music to resonate and touch us.  There are also many moments of stunning virtuosity, which Goldsmith and Graber play with control and authority. Graber’s reading of the dauntingly difficult piano part in Grigory Smirnov’s Fantasia is quite breathtaking; but he is equally convincing in the tender solo piano interlude toward the end of the same piece.

The Wholenote

Flutist Ai Goldsmith studied at UCLA and San Jose State University and now teaches privately in Cupertino. This collection of little-known flute repertoire is her debut on CD. Carl Frühling (whose extended Fantasy, Op. 55, opens the program) is more than obscure—you will be heard put to find anything about him. As a composer he is primarily represented to posterity by a large number of fantasies for solo piano based on popular operas (Wagner, Flotow, Bizet, Tchaikovsky, Moussorgsky) published by Universal in the early 20th Century. His attractive fantasy is not so far in style from the warhorse by Chaminade, the Concertino, and could easily join the repertoire. Grigor Smirnov (b. 1982) already has a monographic CD on Naxos. His fantasy skillfully combines a variety of moods in its 15- minute span, with a notably French flavor. These two works seem to be first recordings. Filling out the program are two more familiar works, the Variations and the Sonatine for flute and piano by Gieseking. Goldsmith is technically adept, with fine intonation and good control of her musical gestures.

T. Moore, American Record Guide

“…what we have here in this recital by Ai Goldsmith and Miles Graber is a highly unusual and really fascinating collection of works for flute and piano…  Her playing on this album is characterized by a bright, open tone, tempered by an ultra-smooth legato, very clean and controlled tonguing, and exceptionally even transitioning between her instrument’s registers, all of which mitigates any tendency towards metallic shrillness or piping one sometimes encounters with the flute, and which contributes to a suave elegance of execution and sophisticated style of music-making that really suit and enhance these works.  Beautifully done…very strongly recommended.”

Jerry Dubins, Fanfare

“The CD opens with Viennese composer Carl Fruhling’s Fantasie, Op. 55.  From the first note Goldsmith’s commitment to creating a beautiful phrase is evident.  Her tone sings tenderly through the dramatic loveliness of late-Romantic work, whether she is playing a lyrical line with a clear melody or finding a melodic line hidden within more technical passages.  The second selection, Fantasia for Flute and Piano by Gregory Smirnov, is moodier and more mysterious, and again, Goldsmith carries her sense of line and phrase through much more abstract music, including through the use of a few extended techniques.  Goldsmith’s transcription of Franz Schubert’s “Litany for All Souls’ Day” … is a wonderful frame in which to present Goldsmith’s dark timbre and masterful phrasing … Les exquises Allégories is a wonderful recording, with well-chosen music played exquisitely.”  Jessica Dunnavant, The Flutist Quarterly

“Goldsmith’s strengths lie in her expressive melodic playing, and impressive high register control, and her duo with Miles Graber is first rate.  Every piece on this disc is played with sensitive musicality and a sense of commitment and communication.” 

Carla Rees, Pan

“This is the key to Ai Goldsmith’s playing: Like some pianists (say, Pires or Uchida), she seems incapable of an unmusical phrase.  This, coupled with a search for musical truth and firm belief in the music she plays leads to impeccably satisfying results… Goldsmith’s own convincing way with phrasing and her ease of delivery, make this a wonderfully powerful case for a reappraisal of this composer [Frühling]…Goldsmith and Graber prolong the atmosphere impeccably, while the sprightly, playful yet fluid Sixth Variation intrigues: certainly, it rewards repeated listenings …The recording (Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California in April 2016) is excellent; perhaps the highest compliment is that one hardly notices it and concentrates instead on the flow of music…Perhaps the world “flow” is the key; the disc emerges as a thought-through program that leaves a most satisfying afterglow.”

Colin Clarke, Fanfare

“Another highlight is the one- movement Fantasia for Flute and Piano by Russian composer Gregory Smirnov (1982 - ) … it is a substantial work and could anchor a serious recital program.  It is passionately performed by Goldsmith and Graber.  Throughout the recording Goldsmith shares her beautiful sound and subtle phrasing.  A special highlight is her performance of the Litany for All Souls’ Day by Franz Schubert.”

Flute Talk Magazine